Say the word 'budget' to most people with ADHD, and you'll likely get boredom, avoidance, fear or confusion in return. ADHD impulsivity and the desire for quick results often translates to unplanned spending and no long-term plan (living paycheck to paycheck).

Impulsivity and strong, dysregulated emotions can be a risky mix when you involve money, credit cards and the desire to chase the next dopamine hit. Debt can rack up and the impact can be devastating.

Why are finances so difficult for ADHD brains?

Research shows that various physiological differences in the ADHD brain — in the prefrontal cortex (our logical, decision making system), the limbic brain (where we regulate emotion & attention), and basal ganglia (the function that manages inter-hemisphere communication) — affect skills necessary for financial management.

We're 'neurobiologically disadvantaged' when it comes to prioritizing and focusing on skills like patience, consistency and practicality, which come in handy for budgeting.

This study showed ADHD adults also choose more impulsively in delay-discounting tasks, preferring the smaller but more immediate rewards to the larger, more delayed rewards.

That may sound all doom & gloom, but what I've learned in my ADHD research, is that it's far easier to work with our brains, instead of going against their natural tendencies.

ADDitude Magazine writes: "The word 'budget' raises hackles for many folks with ADHD; it elicits images of scarcity and rigidity. But a budget is merely a projection of what you expect to receive and spend. The power comes from comparing your predictions against the actual money that ebbs and flows each month."
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ADHD adults report spending large amounts of their weekly pay on takeout food.

Budgeting just means knowing. Knowing how much money you have and where it goes.

And re-framing budgeting in that light can make all the difference when you have ADHD.

When designing the Finance section in the Future ADHD planner, I based our recommendations on the latest research and lived-experience of neurodivergents.

The Future ADHD finance section will show:

  • if you hyperfocus to set up your finances, you can create a system that supports your impulsive tendencies and spontaneity so you can still have fun, but without the guilt
  • you can harness your strong emotions, no bullsh*t style and honesty to give you a solid motivation to do this work (I include prompts to guide you in our Future ADHD planner finance tracker)
  • you can use your imagination to dream up a better financial future, and have savings to cover you in the event of health issues, unemployment or things going wrong
  • you can include amazing rewards that will incentivise you to pay off debt or save (our finance saving templates have sections with rewards built in)
  • you can spend consciously - without the guilt, and fear of credit card bills. You can - in theory - spontaneously book those flights to Bali because you know, not hope that you can afford it

And that sounds sooo much better to me.

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